A new technology has been able to make paralysed patients from the waist down to be able to walk. This technology comes in form of an electric patch fitted to the spinal cords. According to experts, the device helps to transport lost signal from the brain to the leg muscles.
US research teams at the University of Louisville and the Mayo Clinic reported the success in Nature Medicine and the New England Journal of Medicine.
One of the patients, Kelly Thomas that received the treatments said that has been life-changing. In her words, she said, “Being a participant in this study truly changed my life, as it has provided me with a hope that I didn’t think was possible after my car accident.
“The first day I took steps on my own was an emotional milestone in my recovery that I’ll never forget, as one minute I was walking with the trainer’s assistance and while they stopped, I continued walking on my own. It’s amazing what the human body can accomplish with help from research and technology.”
The device does not repair the injury but finds a way around it by reawakening the nerves in the spinal cord. This seems to enable signals from the brain to arrive at the target muscles to enable the individual to voluntarily control their own movement again.
When the stimulation was switched off again the voluntary movement didn’t happen. Neurosurgeon Dr Kendall Lee, who co-led the team from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said: “It’s very exciting, but still very early in the research stage.”
Although so many questions remain unresolved, including precisely how it works and who it might help, Dr Lee said: “It gives hope to people faced with paralysis.”